Around $700K of $3 million match has been raised so far, but NCFB director anticipates a boost

    Reached by email Wednesday for her reaction to North Country Food Bank’s request for $3 million being included in the $825 million 2018 Capital Investment Bill passed by the Republican-controlled Minnesota Legislature and signed by DFL Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday, NCFB Director Susie Novak’s first word in her reply was, “Whew!”

    It’s an appropriate initial reaction. For the past few years in St. Paul, lawmakers from the Minnesota House and Senate, both Republicans and Democrats, have endorsed NCFB’s need for a new facility in Crookston to better serve its 21-county region and the more than 200 non-profit partners it works with. But the request for $3 million in state funds, to be matched by $3 million via a capital campaign, had not been granted until this year. Some years, the funding simply didn’t make it into the final bill, and in another year, NCFB’s money was in the bill, but the bill was not signed into law.

    This year, even though the bonding bills passed by the House and Senate were barely half the size of the bonding proposal put forth by Dayton, NCFB’s money was always included. But the prospects for it becoming law were dicey until Dayton, who’s vetoed most of the major bills passed by the Republicans running the legislature, signed it Wednesday while voicing his reservations about its overall scope and impact.

    “We are so happy, excited and relieved to be included” in the bill,” Novak told the Times. She went on to thank District 1B State Rep. Deb Kiel, a rural Crookston Republican, and District 1 State Sen. Mark Johnson, a Republican from East Grand Forks, for their support of NCFB’s bonding request.

    “This is a big step forward for our building project, and for people struggling with hunger in northwest Minnesota,” Novak added.

    Currently, NCFB’s offices and a warehouse are housed on North Broadway downtown. NCFB also has a warehouse in the industrial park. The new facility would be constructed on North Broadway on land donated by developer Keith Danks, Jr., just south of the Agassiz Townhomes development currently under construction near Fisher Avenue.
What’s next

    Novak has said more than once over the past couple of years that the capital campaign to come up with the $3 million match to the state funds would be significantly boosted once NCFB’s money was included in an approved bonding bill. Wednesday, she said she still expects that to be the case. To date, around $700,000 has been raised.

    “We believe being able to talk about receiving matching bonding funds will give us the boost we need to raise the remaining funds needed to reach the $3 million total,” Novak said. “Many donors and funders like the idea of having the opportunity to have their gift doubled by matching funds.”

    Novak added that it’s her understanding NCFB will not officially receive the $3 million in state money until the $3 million match is raised. She said her hope would be to break ground in 2019, but 2020 might be a more realistic timeline. “I believe we are given a few years to raise our match,” she said.